Friday, December 7, 2012

CTC Unit 15 Watercolor Tutorial

This was a challenging picture to do because you MUST work quickly. Watercolors are so awesome because you have a painting in very little time. You can capture a moment in just a few minutes of painting. On the other hand watercolors are so hard because you have a painting in so very little time...  My kids loved this painting because it reminded them of our family reunion at South Padre Island. Everyday the Gulf of Mexico looked just like this, rollers as far as the eye could see. 

I did make some mistakes this week and I will of course show them to you so you can learn from me! I will blame it on "short term memory" problems. I'm so glad in each painting we seem to make yet another mistake. So often kids get intimidated by the white paper or the fear of making mistakes. Mistakes can often lead to an unexpected result, but still a good painting. Mistakes should be seen as opportunities not "Errors."
 Day 2
 Tape down your paper if you want them to dry flat, and have a nice clean white edge. 
 Squeeze out medium size blobs of paint. 
This is Lighting Storm, she is twisting her paper towels before we start,
 so she is ready when the time comes to use them. 
 I've got mine all ready. 
 I marked where my blue will end and my green will start. 
Lighting Storm followed suit. 
 Loosen up your blue with some water, having it very loose helps later on. 
 Start painting your blue. 
 Make it more even than I am here. 
 Oh I hit my mark I switched to green.
 Loosen up your green with water.
 NOOOOOO!!!!!! don't do this!!
 I totally forgot I was supposed to start at the top and paint over the blue.
 See happily I kept on working painting my green evenly...DOH!
 Instead start at the top with green go over the blue and paint green down to bottom of painting. 
 I was working quickly because you have to get up the paint right away. 
 See how it made lovely white wave crests. 
 Then I checked my instructions and realized I had botched it.
So I went back lightly painted the blue and painted over it with green. 
 Blotted again with the paper towel. 
Be sure to turn your towel as you use it so it soaks up the paint well. 
 Oh no! we had a spill...
Don't leave your paint brushes in the water cup.
It's bad for the brushes and makes the water cup easier to turn over. 
 Sweet Potato worked slow but sure, so her waves are hard to spot. 
 After the water disaster, we managed to get some white crests. 
When you are done put your painting in a safe place to dry. 

Day 3
Squeeze out a large pea size of green, blue, and a small one of white. 
 Mix the green and blue in a new spot on your pallet.
 At the bottom of your white "crests" paint shadows. Think about how the water is moving. I thought it is rolling so I curved some of my strokes. 

Some places the water is just bobbing back and forth these strokes were more straight.  

 Here I thought the water is rushing back from the shore, so I made them "rushing" and straight. 
 O.K. I think I found all the white crests. Now I am ready to move on to the next step. 
 Mix your white and blue to make a light gray. 
 Keep adding white to a tiny bit of blue till you like the color. 

 It is really light but if you look carefully, you can see how I'm highlighting the white crests.

 Keep working until you are happy with your painting.
 Sign your work and put in a safe place to dry. 
 Off they go! 
 Such concentration. 
How much do I squeeze out??
 Off they go. 
 Lighting Storm's painting got the full glass of water poured on it. We still managed to makes some wave crests but her painting is not as "rolling" as the others. 

 Is that a smile! 

What I like is everyone followed the instructions,
 but all the paintings turned out differently.
Don't worry if your painting looks completely different, remember it is unique like you!  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Comfort Soup (vegan)

The cold days are turning memories over in my mind. I recall a winter day I visited my friend Ruby, she was making potato soup for the first time. Even tho I had never made it before in my life, she turned to me for advice. She had wasn't yet a confidant a "cook." I was fascinated by the recipe it included milk, butter, and all these veggies. The picture showed a white soup, but the recipe called for pureeing the soup at the end. We ended up with a orange tinted soup that tasted out of this world. It's a great soup for cold wintry days, when the cold wind blows as it warms the house as it cooks.  Now this version is my own, I do like a stick of butter tossed in... the vegans at the office do not.  Since I've made this version plenty of times as a low fat option I know its still yummy without all those extra calories. If you want a non vegan version you can add in chopped ham as a garnish when you serve it.   Cooking it in 2 pots helps make the base a creamy color not bright orange.  I specify Yukon Gold potatoes these have a natural creaminess, since were not adding any fat that creaminess is needed. If you are going to drop in a stick of butter you can you reds or Idahos, even then I'd still use Yukon's if you can get them.

 Comfort soup
5 Pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes peeled and chopped
2 Pounds of carrots peeled and sliced
1 bunch of celery washed and chopped
1 large white onion chopped in chunks
3 boxes of vegetable broth (or 9 cups)
5-10 pepper corns
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt to taste.
You will need a blender :-)
and 1 large pot and one stock pot.

In stockpot simmer 2 boxes of broth and potatoes with peppercorns and pepper flakes.
In large pot simmer 1 box of broth and the carrots, celery and onions. Simmer till tender.

When potatoes are tender (you may have to do this in batches), blend them till they are smooth. Always make sure the lid is on the blender before blending. This can get messy but the result is worth it. When its all blended mix into the stockpot, the pot of vegetables, season with salt and serve. Makes a big batch... O.K. half a stockpot which in this house is 2 meals worth.

Keep the soup on low heat and stir often if you are not serving immediately this soup is very starchy and can easily burn.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Why I Fired My Kids on Thanksgiving

When I was a kid I had chores. Lots of chores, by no means as many as my mom or my dad did... and when I think about my Grandma at age 5 baby sitting Bessie the cow all day, then selling the milk in the evening! I know as a Kiddo my chore load was not burdensome. I have a nice and tiny house it takes almost no time to clean, because it's so cute and tiny. It also can get messed up right quick because it is so tiny.
Don't get me wrong I'm totally comfortable in a mess, I was a messy as a child and as I aged, I grew up into enjoying a clean space.

Following in my moms footsteps I have given chores to my children. Dishes, bathrooms, clothing... they can be so helpful. My kids can fold those bottom sheets with the elastic on them neatly. I have chores separated into Your Mess (your clothing, your bathroom, your room and your dog), these are unpaid and are just expected to be completed.  The other category is My Mess (household sweeping, my bathroom, Dishes and Kitchen cleaning).  My Mess jobs I'll happily pay to not do them more time to blog! 

Lately though they have been complaining about the onerous duty of dishes, cleaning and work in general. Jobs were dragging out forever 10 minute job was taking 60 minutes. I also have become very dissatisfied with the quality of their work. It got to the point of my good friends actually knowing to check and wash a glass from the cupboard before drinking out of it.  sigh! 

I was feeling poorly on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The day I typically make pies and sauce. Instead I was at the doctors office getting a shot to stave off an eminent ear infection my body was priming for.  Thanks Grandpa for giving me the cold you got from your grandchild!!! :-) Then again you did tell me not to sit next to you.  Thankfully the next day I felt better so plans to have a big meal with friends went forward.

As I tried to cook I came to the unhappy realization I had:

  • Greasy dishes in cupboards, I would take out a bowl and have to wash it. yuckkie!
  • Dishes on stove never seemed to "count" with the kids, My stove was covered in pans from 3 days ago!
  • My best beloved cast iron pan was developing rust! 
  • I had no counter space... until I put everything that had a home, back into it's home, then I had plenty of room. Measuring cups, disks for Cuisinart, my Kitchen Aid paddles were scattered about the kitchen, hiding in various places, not where they belonged.
A paragraph from Arleta James's Book Brothers and Sisters in Adoption came back to haunt me. The line "Kids must earn the right to wash the dishes, as Adoptees can not always be trusted with this chore." Kept running around my brain. 

Seriously I do the dishes far faster and better than they do, why am I paying 6$ a week for this? They have lost the gumption to do them well. In fact I know some sabotage has been happening. When the dish washer was serviced a month ago, Thank You Kevin!  A small towel was found blocking the drain and causing the water to run all over the floor. This is after I had found towels in the dish washer and discussed with the children "Why We Don't Put Towels In the Dishwasher!"  I had cleaned the dishwasher then and pointed out the need to check the bottom for small items (silverware, toys, hair ties????) that can get down in that space.

When I fired them I found no less than 3 tea bags in the bottom of the dish washer. Wow that tells me they are not even bothering to look in the cups before they dump the dishes in the washer, let alone scrape and rinse. The wooden chop sticks in the bottom also Tee'd me off.  I rescued my wooden cutting boards from the dishwasher just 3 weeks ago. That rescue effort also included a discussion on why we don't put knives or wood in the dish washer.

It's obvious they hate this chore so I'll be the nice mommy and take it away. This Saturday I sat down for payday with  the kids, and my Knight in Shining armor paid me 6$ Kids zero zippo nada. I put some in my spend envelope, some in my save envelope and some in my give envelope. All while my kiddos looked on. Little Miss Sunshine has been saving up for a computer... I guess that will have to be put on hold, and those skinny jeans that no longer fit you Sweet Potato... Well you can buy another pair with your own money... oh wait you don't have any money Oh well. I hope they like a season of no cash flow, while I laugh all the way to the bank. Grandma don't send money this Christmas, I need the lesson to stick... how bout toothpaste and underwear instead. 

Last night Sweet Potato tried to wash some dishes but I chased her out. I'm sooo not sharing my 6$.  Ya know she scraped the plate and rinsed it before I managed to stop her. Odd how not being allowed to do it makes it more desirable. 

CTC Unit 14 Watercolor Tutorial

The Road Not Traveled. 
I never thought this painting would turn out so well. My Knight in Shining Armor took photos for us. He made many a comment, as he snapped away. Phrases like "deformed butterfly" were uttered. Do not despair! Carrie gives clear instructions and if you follow them, your butterfly will transform into 2 roads heading off into the distance.  
Please note we are using the paper vertically. This helps your road look more natural. 
Supplies: the eye dropper helps, I would suggest a medium round brush as well. 
Day 2 
Just a little bit of paint to start with, as you can't put it back into the tube! 
 Now it says to lightly draw the road, for you I made it bold, so you can see where the lines are leading. I chose to have them go off the sides of the paper you can choose where ever you like your road to go. 
Add water and loosen up your paint before you start, this will help later. Don't use the paint straight from the tube in this step. Wet paint will help you do the next part.  
 Once you are done painting working quickly drop water to make sun spots. 
 See how the drops are lifting the paint off the paper.  
 Now scrub the spots and lift the paint away. I blotted my brush on a paper towel,
 to keep it from getting to wet as I worked. 

 Using a clean side of a paper towel now blot the spots. 
 See how nicely they lift up. 
Again use water to wet your paint. this is a new tube for us and boy it was thick. It took quite a lot of water to make it smooth for us. Boy did it have great color! 
 Fill in the rest of your painting. This is going to create a great under painting for your hills. 

 Work the paint evenly and neatly.
I think If I were to do it again I'd make the top
 a gradient working light at the top and dark where the road is. 
 Here are the girls at work!
 Like??? Sweet Potato's dashed lines! 

 drip, drip. 
 Little Miss Sunshine is clearly pulling ahead of her sister, finishing in record time. 
 Sweet Potato skipped the scrubbing step and jumped right to blotting to try and catch up. 
 Day 2 is all done! Set aside in a safe place to dry. 

Day 3
 I used Brown, Ultramarine blue, 2 greens and a yellow paint. 
I mixed yellow with light green, dark green with yellow,
 dark green with blue, and light green with blue. 
This gave me many shades of green to choose from. 
 Using the round brush I attempted to make hills.
 I wonder if I had hidden the road it would have been more understandable earlier. 
Do not be discouraged at this point in the painting, you may be saying "How is this ever gonna look  right." but really it will turn out all right in the end. 
 Here a medium brush would have made this step go more quickly.
Don't worry about filling in every inch as you do have the yellow under painting helping you along.

 I started on each side working with medium wet paint curving the strokes to make "hills"
 Finished filling in one side then went back to work on the dark side. 
Sweet Potato was cracking Light side Dark side Star Wars jokes the entire time.  
 Recall how you have made trees in the past.
Just make the trunks and first crotch of the tree. 
 Add lots of trees on both sides. Here it is fine to use paint straight from the tube. If your hill is still wet check out my tip below for drying the paint quickly 

On the light green hill, create dark green shrubs and ferns.
For ferns add a line of paint then stroke at an angle up on each side. Do about 3-4. 
 To add shrubs you can dab with the top of a brush 
or use the side of your brush to make leaves. 
 Put in lots of shrubs and ferns it is ok to let the background show through
as that is how bushes are in real life. 
 Light side has been invaded by the dark side!!! 
 Now the the dark side add in some Jedi bushes... I mean light bushes. 
 Here is a close up of making a bush. 
 Here I dashed off some ferns but I thought they lacked personality. 
 Adding in a bit of darker green over the top gives them more depth. 
 Wow it now looks like a road! Our Darth butterfly is now a happy road in the hills. 
Keep reading for a tip on drying wet paint. 
 Here go the girls. 

 Sweet Potato used really wet light green paint. When she went to paint her trees it was too wet!
 Pull out your handy dandy blow dryer. Set it to low heat/blow you do not want it blasting just a gentle breeze. Dry the paint, keep the dryer far enough away, so you don't move the paint around. 
 Sweet Potato worked really hard on her trees this week!
Now that the paint is dry she can make clean straight strokes. 

 All Done! 
 Little Miss Sunshine made a bunch of Light side bushes on the light side... Can you see them? 
Sweet Potato's finished work. 
And my final result. 
Hope you have a blast doing this painting!